Posted by b on December 3, 2012 at 02:33 PM
Wired’s Danger Room has a weird Exclusive story on alleged Syrian chemical weapons:
Engineers working for the Assad regime in Syria have begun combining the two chemical precursors needed to weaponize sarin gas, an American official with knowledge of the situation tells Danger Room. International observers are now more worried than they’ve even been that the Damascus government could use its nerve agent stockpile to slaughter its own people.
Sarin gas has two main chemical components — isopropanol, popularly known as rubbing alcohol, and methylphosphonyl difluoride. The Assad government has more than 500 metric tons of these precursors, which it ordinarily stores separately, in so-called “binary” form, in order to prevent an accidental release of nerve gas.Last week, that changed. The Syrian military began combining some of the binaries. “They didn’t do it on the whole arsenal, just a modest quantity,” the official says. “We’re not sure what’s the intent.”
Seemingly for lack of knowledge the Danger Room folks are falling for very stupid “Arab country will soon use WMD” propaganda. Do we need to remind anyone that the same claims were made by “American officials” 10 years ago and turned out to be false?
In this case we cane be quite sure that the claims are indeed false. No one in Syria is combining binaries.
Just think of how binary chemical weapons actually work:
Binary chemical weapons or munitions are chemical weapons wherein the toxic agent is not contained within the weapon in its active state, but in the form of two chemical precursors, physically separated within the weapon. The precursors are designed to be significantly less toxic than the agent they make when mixed, and this allows the weapon to be transported and stored more safely than otherwise. The safety provided by binary chemical weapons is especially important for people who live near ammunition dumps.The chemical reaction takes place while the weapon is in flight. Firing the munition ruptures the capsules. The munition spins rapidly in flight, which thoroughly mixes the two precursors, so they can react with one another. Finally, a bursting charge aerosolizes and distributes the chemical agent.
There is no need for the Syrian army to combine stuff and fill it up because the precursors are already stored in the ammunition when that artillery ammunition or aerial bomb is distributed to the units that are supposed to use them. They precursors are stored in two separate chambers and the ammunition is safe for transport and storage. Only firing the ammunition or dropping the bomb will combine the binaries.
What the anonymous American official claims is not happening in Syria. If the Wired writers Noah Shachtman and Spencer Ackerman, (an avid defender of Israel firsters some might note), had even some basic knowledge about ammunition engineering they would not fall for such a stupid claim some anonymous official makes.
The claim that “the Assad regime in Syria have begun combining the two chemical precursors” is definitely wrong. Whatever the Syrian army is doing or not doing with its strategic weapons, it is not what that anonymous “American official” claims.